Puerh Storage in Low Humidity

One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

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Nov 25th, '09, 23:07
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Re: Puerh Storage in Low Humidity

by Chip » Nov 25th, '09, 23:07

... good to see Intuit is on the case ... :lol:

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Nov 26th, '09, 10:37
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Re: Puerh Storage in Low Humidity

by xogget » Nov 26th, '09, 10:37

Intuit wrote:>Bacteria have nothing on mold spores which can survive unusually angry environments.

Ha! You haven't met my extremophilic bacterial buddies.

Maybe storage in thermal vents is the next step in pu erh evolution

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Nov 29th, '17, 05:22
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Re: Puerh Storage in Low Humidity

by john.b » Nov 29th, '17, 05:22

I referred to this old thread in reviewing the issue again. It related to a separate discussion about framing humidity in absolute versus relative terms (as a proportion of water to air, by weight, instead of as a relative % of what the air will hold at that weight). That doesn't seem to get you very far, but it was interesting to consider it, and see it mapped out in psychrometric graphs.

Related to a vendor video about storage locations, and the wet and dry issue, I also added a section identifying climate conditions in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Kunming.

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co ... ative.html

Dec 1st, '17, 18:43
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Re: Puerh Storage in Low Humidity

by Cwyn » Dec 1st, '17, 18:43

The primary organisms responsible for aging of puerh tea in the first phase is Aspergillus Niger to break down the cell walls, and in the later phase, Rhizopus to sweeten the juices released by the cell wall breakdown. These organisms are fungi, not molds and not bacteria. Comparisons with beer or sourdough are not inaccurate, the fermentation here is that of fruits and vegetables with no starter additive.

Other bacteria or molds present are by-products providing carbon for the fungi which is why a well-aged puerh tea (or well-ripened) will have these byproducts consumed fully in the process, making the beverage consumable without ill effects, while a too dry or too humid aging environment can cause too little fungal activity, or too high mold or bacteria count. Just to be on the safe side, a boiling rinse is a good idea especially if we don't know where that newly-acquired puerh has been.

My best teacher is failure. I can attest to the loss of flavor and vitality in storing tea too dry following the cardboard box method recommended by Cloud some years ago. Even with a bowl of water, my drier environment resulted in flavor loss, even in my shou puerh. In more recent years, along with finding a better storage method I have been looking to fail on the higher humidity end with tea samples in order to learn more. For me, the teas that do best under the higher humidity are, not surprising, the highly bitter, compressed and smoky factory teas.

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Dec 1st, '17, 23:59
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Re: Puerh Storage in Low Humidity

by jayinhk » Dec 1st, '17, 23:59

Cwyn wrote:For me, the teas that do best under the higher humidity are, not surprising, the highly bitter, compressed and smoky factory teas.
This is why traditional storage was a thing! I still feel those old recipes best suit the climate here as the leaves are more resistant to decomposition over the long term. Fancier stuff can sometimes lose a little too much complexity during rapid decomposition. I used to worry that my summer air conditioning here in HK was enough to disrupt my pu and added a shot glass of water to my bedroom storage cabinet; I now know there is absolutely no need for that, even with air conditioning.

Dec 13th, '17, 14:08
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Re: Puerh Storage in Low Humidity

by Cwyn » Dec 13th, '17, 14:08

Exactly, the tea and the storage climate are a match. I get so disturbed when I see blanket generalizations about teas without storage taken into account, for example "factory recipes are better," without the understanding that these are best aged in a more humid setting, or vice versa, that floral teas are better or worse when the subtle flavors get killed by that same storage. How the tea is treated matters, whether that tea is an enjoyable drink or not.

The same blanket generalizations are applied to the storage, "humid storage is bad," well no it is perfect for a bitter, smoky and compressed tea. Or "dry storage is bad," well a certain drier storage may actually be best for more delicately flavored tea.

Also, we just don't know enough about what works over 20-30 years. Our examples of fine tea over the long haul are not well documented enough, and current storage set ups are too new to date. We know more about failure at this point than success. At some point in the future, this will get turned around as more data gets shared.

Dec 13th, '17, 16:46
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Re: Puerh Storage in Low Humidity

by Zared » Dec 13th, '17, 16:46

I suspect fresh tea bought from Kunming isn't gonna improve much in 5-10yrs for most people in the US. Its one reason I've been hesitant to buy anything to age that young or isn't enjoyable now. I'd rather not realize in 5yrs that I wasted $5000+ on stuff that I still don't want to drink. Though I'm thinking it's time to take the chance with some humid stored teas that already have a leg up.

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Dec 14th, '17, 03:07
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Re: Puerh Storage in Low Humidity

by Rui » Dec 14th, '17, 03:07

An example of a very low humidity environment not working for pu'er storage is that I have wasted enough 100gms cakes, samples and tuo's stored here in the office. After a short while they taste like straw with most of the aroma lost and that is due to the low humidity around here.

At the moment I am sitting in a office at 24.5 degrees C which should go up as the day goes on to around 26 degrees C. I believe that is excellent for pu'er storage.

The problem lies in the low humidity level. It is now 23% relative humidity and that will drop to around 20% later in the day.

Solution: I have a couple of cigar humidifiers in my largest drawer with 72% humidity packs. These humidors are opened every couple of days to 'freshen' up the air inside. So far this has worked very well and the teas are maturing faster than at home where we have not got such high temperatures.

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